Stephen Black: This post is a breakdown of my experiences with AR/VR/Spatial Computing. It starts with 2002, though I received a BFA in Photographic Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology well before that.
Before 2002, I lived in Tokyo, Manhattan, Paris and Hong Kong, and worked in network TV, fine arts, photography and music. A fuller biography can be found here. But AR is the topic of this post...
2002-2007. In Singapore I worked as a creative director for a 3D game making company that was also doing something like Youtube,-- but three years before Youtube. Although I was not a developer, I learned a great deal about spatial computing, and taught 3D gamemaking in Singapore, including classes at the Singapore Science Center. It was during this time, that David Severn and I developed the Secret Donut World characters.
2007- 2014 Singapore/Bali: wrote novels, including a bestseller, was involved with 3how and researched VR and AR.
2014 SPOKEN, with Eugene Soh; a curation of a wide range of artists.
2014 The Oculus signaled the emergence of VR, and I began notes for a book about VR cinematography.
2015 In Singapore, a chance meeting with Ender Jiang, the founder of Hiverlab, resulted in the opportunity to make my first 360 film. Ender provided me with technical support and creative freedom and I am extremely grateful for that opportunity. The resulting film, Beach Road, featured a soundtrack by Bani Haykal and Chen Yi Qi, and was selected as a demo VR film in the Hybrid Arcade session of the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival in November 2015, and was nominated as the Best Experimental VR Film in the VR Fest Las Vegas 2016. It was also fetured in a VR film festival at the Singapore national Museum. Beach Road was receiving a healthy number of views and comments before a technical change in Google Play took it off. At the time of this writing, Beach Road is on Veer and has received almost 5000 views.
2016 The year began with discussing a VR startup idea with VCs in Singapore. Though the discussions went well, the lack of a prototype slowed things down. Shortly after, the release of ARCore and ARKit resulted in a halt to VR the possibilities of AR were assessed.
By April, AR had become the focus and the decision was made to become the "Pixar of AR": original characters, stories and software. With Sayuri Okayama, Bubiko Foodtour was originated.
2018 A presentation about AR was given at Sasin School of Business in Bangkok, later followed by two presentations and two workshops at Hong Kong PolyU, all at 80% capacity or higher.
2018Lotus Mountain, a 360 film was shot and post production began including VR art contributions from Scobot and a soundtrack by Rei Shimizu. The film is at least 80% done and finishing funds are now being searched for. Lotus Mountain was supported by Kando, and 8K Obsidians were used for most of the shooting. Noted Chinese VR filmmaker Leo Wei co-directed and produced.
Bubiko at the Rise festival in HK
Hong Kong Comicon
2018 Cross-promotional and development partnership with Six Cats Studios (HK), focusing on their original IPs, Ollie and Charlie.
2018 Presentations in Shenzhen, including Le Wagon and Tech Crunch Shenzhen.
Last night I had the pleasure of watching a big band perform. Swingmania are champions! Below the photos is the text from the Facebook page from a Battle of the Bands competition--which Swingmania won! http://www.swingmania.org/
All Night Entertainment presents the Battle of the Bands at the BIG3 Swing Dance Saturday, March 16, 2019 at the Masonic Temple Crystal Ballroom in Detroit.
Featuring 15-piece Battle of the Bands winner, The Paul Keller Orchestra vs. Two-time Battle of the Bands winner, 15-piece Swingmania
The PKO is one of Michigan's finest, oldest, most respected and well-traveled jazz bands. The PKO has held forth every Monday night, for over 28 years, in Ann Arbor, first at the Bird of Paradise Jazz Club, then at the Firefly Club & Keystone Martini Bar and now at the Zal Gaz Grotto. The PKO's voluminous library of over 1,000 arrangements includes classic, obscure and original big band material from the entire history of jazz.
Two-time defending champions, 15-piece Swingmania from Toledo plays a wide variety of the classic swing and big band music of Miller, Ellington, and Basie plus favorites such as Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Cole, Prima and Presley. They have a solid hold on the swing scene in Northwest Ohio.
Status: Completely shot, soundtrack and voice acting completed.
Needed: budget for graphics, final edit, audio mixing and promotion.
This video was meant to be an inhouse experiment, but due to time restrictions, is being used as an introduction to Lotus Mountain. A proper 4K rough cut will be ready by SXSW, as well as a detailed booklet for press and distributors.
The assistance and support of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Kandao were invaluable in the production of Lotus Mountain.
Stephen Black is an independent artist/producer/writer committed to finishing Lotus Mountain.
Hello! An update... and a request for support. I know the world is a goofy place and that a film is a luxury, in many ways. But I am now, with a great team, making a short 360VR film. The setting is the city of Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China. The film is about a couple, one of whom is a robot, but the film is ultimately about relationships.
Additionally, we are also in postproduction for a documentary on the city of Shenzhen itself.
Your help would make these two projects the best that they can be. We documented Shenzhen for 24 hours on August 18th. The documentation actually started on the 17th, which was Chinese Valentine's Day. That inspired the second short film, called Lotus Mountain.
I will write and do some Facebook Live broadcasts soon. If there were more time, I would do a crowdfunding campaign.
Stephen Black holding a Qoocam 360VR camera at the 2018 Maker Faire in Hong Kong.
Leo Wei, on the left, demonstrating a Kandao camera at Hong Kong Polytechnic
But we discovered the deadline for the Sundance Film Festival is this month, as is the deadline for a major European VR festival.
We are looking for sponsors and perhaps there is a way to sell it later. VR is a frontier, and there is no way to predict what will happen. For what it is worth, my first VR film was shown at festivals in Brisbane, Las Vegas and Singapore.
If you would like to support, the easiest action with the most value is to buy one of my books, probably i ate tiong bahru. It is a bestseller in Singapore.The paperback version is 17.88, and the ebook and audiobook versions are less than that. If you want to support more, please send me a private message. If you have a company that has a product that could appear in the movie, I am very happy to talk about that as well. Thank you very much for reading this!
At the 2018 Maker Faire at Hong Kong Polytechnic
Stephen Black holding a Qoocam 360VR camera at the 2018 Maker Faire at HK PolyU.
In the next post I will write about the great production, music, art and acting talents who are involved.
Oh yes... Beach Road, my first VR film, was a co-production with Hiverlab that has been featured in VR film festivals in Las Vegas, Singapore and Brisbane.